12 June 2023

Re-Imagining The Great Forest of Aughty

Event Poster

Sat 22 Jul 2023 10:00 – Sun 23 Jul 2023 18:00

Cnoc na Gaoithe Cultural Centre

Tulla, County Clare



A cross-cultural exchange exploring the indigenous forest traditions of Ireland and North America with special guests Ron Waukau and Mc Kaylee Duquain of the Menominee Nation who will share their knowledge, wisdom and spiritual connection to their forest of 235,000 acres in Wisconsin, the most biodiverse and species-rich forest in North America.

The event aims to bring attention to our Great Forest of Aughty rainforest restoration plan to expand the pockets of oakwood and join them via a matrix of riparian and hedgerow corridors and to seek action and support to make it happen on a wider scale.

We will have a variety of speakers on the day, including a very interesting presentation on the history of the Ironworks in the Aughty region and its negative impact on the Great Forest of Aughty by Dr Paul Rondelez, well known metallurgist.

The Menominee will start in the morning at 10am, with a combined historical and modern look at what the forest means to them and how they manage it today with all of the multiple benefits they have enjoyed.

Andrew St Ledger will follow with an overview of the Great Forest of Aughty and then break for lunch. We will have a Q and A session at the end of the day with all of the speakers and encourage feedback and ideas etc from the audience/community.

After lunch we plan to plant a heritage oak tree in a restored orchard, the tree is grown from seed collected from a famous 1000 year old oak tree named after Brian Boru, there is an ideal place to do this at the traditional Irish music venue, the community cultural centre called Cnoc na Gaoithe, the windy hill which the town of Tulla is also called after.


The following day we plan to take a coach and visit some of the larger remnant ancient Aughty oakwoods to have an exploratory discussion led by the Menominee sharing how they would approach managing the Aughty oakwoods in order to guide and inform future sustainable management plans for the Great Forest of Aughty.

At one of these oakwoods in the afternoon, Andrew St Ledger, Woodland League PRO and co-founder will lead a walk and talk explaining how these oakwoods were historically utilised 1000 years ago under the Brehon judgements of neighbourhood, Bretha Comaithchesa, explaining the Brehon Tree lists/classification with fines and penalties for wilfully damaging different species of tree in order of importance, and the use of the forest in times of war, in the time of Brian Boru. This will cover the multiple uses, goods and services which the oakwoods provided, which in effect was the foundation for a very effective Treeconomy and Gaelic society.

Peter Beaumont, a Woodland League director, will contribute his extensive knowledge of woodland birds and plants. The unique Ogham alphabet of the trees will be touched on and comparisons with Menominee forest crafts, traditions and uses etc.

We will also have long bow making, wood pole lathe bowl making and greenwood craft furniture and basket making demonstrations going on in the woods.


Saturday 22nd July

Presentation by the Menominee Forest Keepers on their 235000 acres old growth forest, history, benefits, and sustainable management.

Presentation by Andrew St Ledger on The Great Forest of Aughty plan, history, potential multiple benefits and opportunities for farmers.

Lunch and Brian Boru oak tree planting ceremony in the venue’s old orchard.

Presentation by Dr Paul Rondelez on the impacts of the blast furnace iron Industry had on the demise of the Great Forest of Aughty.

Short Presentations

Bob Wilson, CELT, (Centre for Environmental Living and Training) will talk about the work of the environmental organisation in the Aughties.

Nia O’ Malley of the Lough Atorick Restoration Association will talk about their community lake restoration in the Aughty region.

Sara Jay of the Abhainn Da Lolloich river restoration group will share their community project in the Aughty region.

Helen Carthy of the NPWS (National Parks and Wildlife Service) will talk about their work in the Aughties and the Great Forest of Aughty.

Joe Gowran of Woodlands of Ireland will share the different native woodland grants available for the Great Forest of Aughty.

Ken Bucke of the Forest Service will talk about Woodlands and Water and the multiple benefits from riparian forest restoration.

Tracy O’ Hara, an ACRES consultant will talk about the opportunities for farmers linking in with the Great Forest of Aughty plans.

Panel discussion and Q and A session.

Sunday 23rd July

Field Trips to two extremely important intact ancient rainforest remnant shreds of the once mighty Great Forest of Aughty.


We will meet in Tulla for a coach to take us to visit Derrycrag oakwood which is another remnant of the Aughty oakwoods near Woodford in Galway, and an SAC (Special Area of Conservation) managed by the NPWS (National Parks and Wildlife Service). Here we will hear from the Menominee how they manage a similar type of their overall forest and we will discuss how this ancient rainforest could be managed in the future, based on the Menominee sustainable forestry model with their observations and inputs if adopted after stakeholder consultation etc.

En route we will visit one of the original 17th century blast furnaces, mostly intact in Whitegate, which Dr Paul Rondelez will talk about at the symposium. We will also visit the heritage centre in Woodford which has a huge bar of iron made from the Aughty oakwood charcoal with a date on it, displayed outside the centre. This will provide participants with the full circle, from the destruction of the oakwoods, the methodology via charcoal for iron production, evidence of both a furnace and an actual bar of pig iron, on to the restoration of the aughty remnant rainforests via The Great Forest of Aughty plan and site visits.

We will hear Andrew St Ledger of the Woodland League talk about its rich woodland biodiversity, the mosses, lichens and liverworts. Peter Beaumont of the Woodland League will share his expertise on the woodland birds and plants, and the group will discuss how this ancient rainforest could be managed in the future, based on the Menominee sustainable forestry model with their observations and inputs.

To include insights on how the Menominee, via McKaylee Duquain and Ron Waukow, are adapting their forest to climate change and the importance of treating the forest as a whole community of diverse living organisms that are all interdependent yet connected with a view to guiding and informing the Great Forest of Aughty plan.


We will visit and explore Cahermurphy Oakwood, a small Sessile oakwood with stream and wetland habitats, with a diverse set of flora, which is a nature reserve of 9 hectares and a Special Area of Conservation, in county Clare on the banks of Lough Grainey with Andrew St Ledger to learn about Gaelic woodland traditions, Brehon laws, the Ogham alphabet of the trees. All interlaced with some old legends regarding how Brian Boru led his warrior band in these oakwoods during the Viking wars.

We will have woodland craft demonstrations set up in the wood, including basket making with Peter Beaumont, longbow making with Jack Pinson, pole lathe wood turning with Dee Synott and traditional Sugan chair making with Sean Walshe. And we shall hear from the Menominee Forest keepers, McKaylee and Ron from their observations on how they would make interventions, if any were needed that would impact upon the existing forest ecology for their long term future and overall as a component of the Great Forest of Aughty project.

We are also expecting to have some local people and farmers living beside these woodlands join us for these valuable discussions, some of these individuals will be speaking at the symposium on Saturday enriching the whole experience which we are also planning to record on paper and video, to be reflected in the Great Forest of Aughy plan.



More information on the Menominee.


PBS documentary: Menominee History

Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin – Tribes and Climate Change

Menominee Tribal Enterprises awards and recognition



The Great Forest of Aughty Animation Video

The Woodland League

Dedicated to restoring the relationship between people and their native woodlands